Don’t kill the yearbook
I was deeply saddened when I heard that Luther College is killing off the printed yearbook. As the only student in attendance at the yearbook open forum on March 13, I figure it is time I added my two cents to the discussion.
As far as I can tell, this change to online is a done deal. Apparently this decision was five years in the making, but very few people seem to know anything about it. Having an online yearbook will probably be very nice, but printed yearbooks should still be available to students who want one.
Physical yearbooks are great repositories of memories, and fun time capsules. They summarize the year in an attractive format. Very importantly, they have captions to tell you who the person in the back is. This formatting would be severely missed in a digital photo book. Having a physical copy makes it much more likely that that yearbook will be looked at. You might notice it on the shelf someday and get all nostalgic. I’ve seen my parents’ yearbooks and laughed at their atrocious hairstyles, but I would never have cared to look at my parents’ 80s hair if their yearbooks had been online and not out on a shelf.
I am not the only one who likes to go back in time. I work at the library circulation desk, and get a kick out of alumni pulling out the yearbooks by the research help desk every Homecoming. They point and laugh and have a grand old time. They have several years open at one time and chortle as they remember what happened on campus. That would be a lot harder to do on one computer screen.
I understand not everyone has my love of tangible things, but Luther could certainly just order yearbooks for people who want yearbooks. If it is too expensive to have yearbooks for everyone, let’s have a set number. First come, first served. Apparently, stacks of copies go unclaimed every year. I am not sure how this happens because yearbooks are mailed to our homes, but evidently not everyone wants one. Okay, then. If you want a yearbook, put your name on the list.
One last thing to consider is cost. If a printed option were to happen, students might be stuck paying a lot for something that used to be included in the Co-Curriculer Activities Fee (CAF). But since buying fewer yearbooks will be less expensive overall, every student who pays CAF and wants a yearbook should get one at no added cost. If yearbooks are really as unpopular as they say, these savings should go a long way to paying for the new staff position SAC wants. But if it really is a choice between a staff position and the yearbook, I am sure many students would choose the yearbook they actually see and use. Students who want a yearbook should have the option of a free physical copy.